Q. I have lived with my partner for 10 years but I am thinking of leaving her because she never takes me anywhere or buys me nice things anymore. We never married and my name is not on the mortgage. Can I get any money from her if we split?
A. If you are living with someone without being married you might think you have similar rights to married couples if the relationship breaks down or one of you dies, but you would be wrong.
There is no such thing as a common law marriage and cohabitants have very few rights arising out of the relationship. You cannot, for example, claim maintenance from a cohabitant or former cohabitant for your own benefit. If you live in a property in your partner’s sole name you have no automatic right to a share of it.
You would only have these rights if you could prove that:
(a) you contributed to the purchase of the property, in which case the court may divide up the proceeds in the proportion in which you both contributed
or (b) you and your partner agreed that you would have a share and you acted on that or you made direct financial contributions, in which case the court may divide up the proceeds in such a way as is fair, taking account of your financial arrangements throughout your relationship
or (c) your partner promised that you would have a share and you acted on that, in which case the court might transfer the property, give you the right to stay there or award you a fair share of the proceeds.
The strength of your case to claim such rights would depend on what evidence you have, which can be very difficult, costly and time-consuming to establish. As you are not married you are not entitled to maintenance from your partner or a pension sharing Order.